The Botswana Public Employees Union (BOPEU) has taken a decision to aggressively venture into the tourism industry. The Union recently bought a P16 million worth of stake in the Stoffberg consortium. BOPEU president, Andrew Motsamai said the investment is intended solely for members as they will in the process be allowed to buy individual shares from the 30 percent stake of the Union.
“We want our members to realise the benefits of being part of this union, as this has been our approach for many years. As BOPEU grows, the Board has realised that it is important to use it as a vehicle to empower Batswana. We want to position the union and its investment arms such that they can help Batswana to play a meaningful role in engine sectors like tourism,” observed Motsamai.
BOPEU has entered into a deal with owners of a company that is also party owned by the Citizen Entrepreneurship Development Agency (CEDA). CEDA owns 20 percent of the Stoffberg Company which operates Kadizora lodge in the north western part of the country, Elephant Valley Lodge in Kasane, and owns chunks of land across the area. The MacFarlane family owns the other 20 percent in the company that controls and owns 100 000 hectares of land.
Motsamai indicated that they want to help grow the portfolio of the company by helping come up with ideas that can make use of the company’s assets to provoke citizen participation in the tourism sector. “We have big ambitions for this project including private listing that will see BOPEU members purchase shares in the company,” he stressed.
“The Board has taken a decision to participate in the tourism industry because there are very few Batswana who own meaningfully in this sector. As we read and analyse the country’s economy it is clear that by 2025 tourism sector would have surpassed mining as number generator of income in the country, so we want to take advantage and position Batswana and ensure that they control the economy then,” he said.
Motsamai explained that although the union side is clearly against privatisation as a policy of government, they cannot set their members for failure by not grabbing opportunities in the private businesses as they avail themselves. He said unions must position themselves such that they can warehouse shares for their members. He further illustrated that BOPEU intends to embark on a roadshow aimed at encouraging members to purchase shares in ventures such as the Kadizora and others that the union has acquired shares in. He said they will make the share prices very reasonable for their members.
According to Motsamai, BOPEU has purchased close to 2 million shares in the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) and they are going to sell the shares back to their members using the original price of the shares. He said whenever government privatises any entity they will work hard to claim something from the sale of shares because they want the union members to access those at reasonable pricing.
The BOPEU President indicated that very soon the stand point of Batswana owning and operating small lodges will come to an end because vehicles in the mould of BOPEU will help pave the way for citizens to actively participate in high income generating businesses in the tourism sector. He said at the moment Batswana operate small lodges that earn a small fraction of tourism earnings. “We consciously decided to engage Cresta Hotels, because of their expertise in this business to manage some of the businesses that we have stake in this industry,” explained Motsamai.
An international report complied in South Africa dubbed ‘Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana’ says that the transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana live a miserable life. The community experiences higher levels of discrimination, violence and ill health.
In this report, it has been indicated that this is because their gender identity, which does not conform to narrowly define societal norms, renders them more vulnerable. Gender identity is a social determinant of health, which means that it is a factor that influences people’s health via their social context, their communities and their experiences of social exclusion. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has recognized this, and transgender people are considered a vulnerable population under the Botswana Second National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2010-2017.
In a recent study that shed light on the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana, transgender persons often experience discrimination because of their gender identity and expression. The study was conducted by the University of Cape Town, LEGABIBO, BONELA, as well as Rainbow Identity Association and approved by the Health Ministry as well as the University of Botswana.
Of the 77 transgender and gender non-conforming people who participated in the study, less than half were employed. Two thirds, which is approximately 67% said that they did not have sufficient funds to cover their everyday needs. Two in five had hidden health concerns from their healthcare provider because they were afraid to disclose their gender identity.
More than half said that because of their gender identity, they had been treated disrespectfully at a healthcare facility (55%), almost half (46%) said they had been insulted at a healthcare facility, and one quarter (25%) had been denied healthcare because of their gender identity.
At the same time, the ‘Are we doing right’ study suggests that transgender and non-conforming people might be at higher risks of experiencing violence and mental ill-health, compared to the general population. More than half had experienced verbal embarrassment because of their gender identity, 48% had experienced physical violence and more than one third (38%) had experienced sexual violence.
The study showed that mental health concerns were high among transgender and gender non-conforming people in Botswana. Half of the transgender and gender non-conforming study participants (53%) showed signs of depression. Between one in four and one in six showed signs of moderate or severe anxiety (22% among transgender women, 24% among transgender men and 17% among gender non-conforming people).
Further, the study revealed that many had attempted suicide: one in three transgender women (32%), more than one in three transgender men (35%) and three in five gender non-conforming people (61%).
International research, as well as research from Botswana, suggests that not being able to change one’s gender marker has a negative impact on access to healthcare and mental health and wellbeing. The study further showed that one in four transgender people in Botswana (25%) had been denied access to healthcare. This is, at least in part, linked to not being able to change one’s gender marker in the identity documents, and thus not having an identity document that matches one’s gender identity and gender expression.
In its Assessment of Legal and Regulatory Framework for HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis, the Health Ministry noted that “transgender persons in Botswana are unable to access identity documents that reflect their gender identity, which is a barrier to health services, including in the context of HIV. In one documented case, a transwoman’s identity card did not reflect her gender identity- her identity card photo indicated she was ‘male’. When she presented her identity card at a health facility, a health worker called the police who took her into custody.”
The necessity of a correct national identity document goes beyond healthcare. The High Court of Botswana explains that “the national identity document plays a pivotal role in every Motswana’s daily life, as it links him or her with any service they require from various institutions. Most activities in the country require every Motswana to produce their identity document, for identification purposes of receiving services.”
According to the Legal Gender Recognition in Botswana report, this effectively means that transgender, whose gender identity and expression is likely to be different from the sex assigned to them at birth and from what is recorded on their identity document, cannot access services without risk of denial or discrimination, or accusations of fraud.
In this context, gays and lesbians advocacy group LEGABIBO has called on government through the Department of Civil and National Registration to urgently implement the High Court rulings on gender marker changes. As stated by the High Court in the ND vs Attorney General of Botswana judgement, identity cards (Omang) play an important role in the life of every Motswana. Refusal and or delay to issue a Motswana with an Omang is denying them to live a complete and full-filing life with dignity and violates their privacy and freedom of expression.
The judgement clarified that persons can change their gender marker as per the National Registrations Act, so changing the gender marker is legally possible. There is no need for a court order. It further said the person’s gender is self-identified, there is no need to consult medical doctors.
LEGABIBO also called on government to develop regulations that specify administrative procedure to change one’s gender marker, and observing self-determination process. Further, the group looks out for government to ensure members of the transgender community are engaged in the development of regulations.
“We call on this Department of Civil and National Registration to ensure that the gender marker change under the National Registration Act is aligned to the Births and Deaths Registry Act to avoid court order.
Meanwhile, a gay man in Lobatse, Moabi Mokenke was recently viciously killed after being sexually violated in the streets of Peleng, shockingly by his neighbourhood folks. The youthful lad, likely to be 29-years old, met his fate on his way home, from the wearisome Di a Bowa taverns situated in the much populated township of Peleng Central.
CEO of Khato Civils Mongezi Mnyani has come out of the silence and is going all way guns blazing against the company’s adversaries who he said are hell-bent on tarnishing his company’s image and “hard-earned good name”
Speaking to WeekendPost from South Africa, Mnyani said it is now time for him to speak out or act against his detractors. Khato Civils has done several projects across Africa. Khato Civils, a construction company and its affiliate engineering company, South Zambezi have executed a number of world class projects in South Africa, Malawi and now recently here in Botswana.
About ten (10) Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) parliamentary candidates who lost the 2019 general election and petitioned results this week met with UDC Vice President, Dumelang Saleshando to discuss the way forward concerning the quandary that is the legal fees put before them by Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) lawyers.
For a while now, UDC petitioners who are facing the wrath of quizzical sheriffs have demanded audience with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC) but in vain. However after the long wait for a tete-a-tete with the UDC, the petitioners met with Saleshando accompanied by other NEC members including Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, Reverend Mpho Dibeela and Dennis Alexander.